David was a Renaissance Man before the Renaissance. King, warrior, poet, musician, philosopher, politician, architect… He seemed to excel at everything he put his hand to…except parenting. Despite his close relationship to his Father in heaven, David was a miserable father to his own children here on earth. The royal princes lived hedonistic lives that were out of control. The evidence:
· David’s oldest son raped his half-sister and left her a “desolate woman.”
· Though David was “furious,” he did nothing.
· When the girl’s other brother murdered the brother who raped her, David did nothing.
· When the son who had murdered his brother returned from his self-imposed exile, David would not meet or speak to him for two years.
· As this son’s resentment towards his father grew, he planned and executed an overthrow of his father’s kingdom.
· Later, two other sons competed for the throne, and the struggled ended in one having the other killed.
But maybe Solomon was an example of good parenting… Though there was some drama in his mom’s and dad’s relationship, he turned out to be a young man with a good head on his shoulders. When God came to him in a dream and offered to give Solomon anything he wanted, Solomon asked for wisdom. God was pleased, so He granted Solomon wisdom with wealth and honor as a bonus.
Solomon then set about building an impressive resume:
· He was the wisest man the world has ever known (after Jesus).
· He became the richest man the world has ever known (at one point bringing in the equivalent of $4 billion in gold each year from tributes and taxes).
· He built God’s holy temple.
· He married Pharoah’s daughter, creating and alliance with one of the most powerful nations of the world.
· He also married 699 other women – a mixture of infatuations, princesses and other women who were important for political reasons.
· He accumulated 300 concubines.
· He built 40,000 stalls of horses for his chariots and trained 12,000 able horsemen to ride them.
· He wrote at least three books of the Bible.
There was only one thing missing – a steadfast devotion to the Lord. Solomon’s wisdom was no match for his wives and wealth. Though he should have known that there is only one true God, He ended his years worshiping the many gods of the women he had married. And what’s worse, his spiritual complacency led to his son’s outright rejection of God. Rehoboam’s bio includes the phrase “He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 12:14)
In these three kings (David, Solomon and Rehoboam), we can see what Bruce Wilkinson calls “the powerful principle of the three chairs.” The three chairs represent three different positions toward Christ.
· Chair #1: Jesus is Lord and Savior.
· Chair #2: Jesus is Savior.
· Chair #3: Jesus is a historical figure.
David sat in Chair #1. He looked forward to the coming of his Lord and Savior and committed his life to serving the one, true God. Solomon sat in Chair #2. He looked forward to the coming of his Savior, but over the course of his life, he compromised and compromised spiritually until he no longer treated God as Lord of his life. Rehoboam sat in Chair #3. He didn’t look forward to the coming of the Lord, and he wasn’t interested in submitting to God here on earth.
This example terrifies me as a father. If a man as godly as David could fail to pass on his First Chair faith to his son and grandson, how am I going to do it? I sit in the First Chair most of the time, but if I’m honest, sometimes I’ve only got one cheek on the seat. David was “a man after God’s own heart,” but even his faith didn’t automatically transfer.
I think I know why. Children can’t go through life just reusing the faith of their parents and grandparents. Faith is like tape. It might be really sticky the first time you use it, but every time after that, it loses some of the stickiness. If our faith wasn’t too terribly sticky to begin with, our kids won’t be able to get much use out it.
No, we have to allow our children to find a First Chair faith of their own. That means that we are going to have to let God break them spiritually. Don’t flinch. Isn’t that where First Chair faith comes from? If you’ve got First Chair faith, isn’t it where you got it from?
First Chair faith doesn’t come from giving our hearts to Jesus when we were six. That just gets you to the Second Chair. First Chair faith comes from recognizing that we have nothing to offer God, that we are just clay in the Potter’s hands, and from allowing the Potter to remake us into whatever He wants us to be.
This doesn’t mean that we, as parents, don’t have a role to play. God wants us to give our children a firm foundation. He wants us to fill their hearts with godly things and model our faithful walk with Him. But at some point, we have to let our kids find their own path to a deeper relationship with Him. We can’t take them all the way; they have to walk the last part alone. We can provide them with opportunities to stretch their faith; we can challenge and encourage them; we can hold them accountable, but we can’t seat them in the First Chair. Like the father who releases his daughter after the walk down the aisle, we have to give the Bride to the Groom.
But praise God, we can trust the Groom! He is honorable and just, and He loves our kids more than we do. He will lead them to the First Chair, and our reward will be to see how our years of First Chair relationship with Christ provided our kids with the right example and conditions to have an even more abundant life of service to Him.